Time for Friday night fun (6:50 p.m.)
The above photo shows our hotel lobby, taken at 5:30 p.m. PT Friday. As you can see, it is a bustling beehive of activity, a veritable night club with the lights up.
There's a frenetic energy on the floor that can only mean one thing: The Super Bowl is almost here. A good majority of fans going to the game fly in at some point today, and as you can imagine, people are pumped for Sunday and are here to have a good time before kickoff.
I'm beyond blessed to cover Super Bowls for NFL.com, but let me just say there is always a slight twinge of sadness during the time of week when I think about how the damn Jets have never played in this game in my lifetime. Basically, I'm just jealous. I've witnessed this scene up close for five years and I see what an incredible fan -- nay -- life experience it really is.
San Francisco reminds of me of New York in that it has not been overrun by Super Bowl madness. Sure, it's the biggest thing going on in town, but it still feels very much like a city that has retained its overall identity as opposed to morphing into Football, USA for a week.
Which isn't a bad thing, by the way. I loved how the city of Indianapolis embraced the game with so much fervor back in 2011. San Francisco, like the Big Apple, is keeping the game a little bit more, shall we say, at a distance. You can walk places in the city where you'd have no idea the Super Bowl is in town. That's a refreshing option as the week grinds on.
Anyway, I'm getting ready to meet up with the boys at the above hotel bar before we decamp to the Golden Gate Tap Room for the first stateside Around The NFL Podcast fan meet-up. Stop by if you're in town! After that, it's off to the Playboy party. It's about to get real.
Inside-out cardigan dude (3 p.m.)
Over on NFL.com proper you can find the season finale of the End Around, my weekly column about all the happens in the world of the NFL that especially intrigue yours truly. You should check it out!
In the End Around, I did bring attention to something I meant to address in my write-up of the Madden party last night. So let's do it here.
On the surface, this appears to be a crushing Cool Dad setback for the ages. You're going to a Super Bowl party, a bash that will feature beautiful women and Ludacris bangers -- and you're walking around the damn place with your cardigan sweater inside-out. After taking this photo, I was tapped on the shoulder and a grinning couple explained to me that they had been marveling at the man's mistake all night.
Now I know what you're thinking. "You're a bad guy. You should have told they dumb sap about his shirt." And you're right, I could have. But it was after midnight when this photo was taken. He had already been wearing his clothes wrong for anywhere between four and 14 hours. This was out of my jurisdiction and between him and God.
What I'm left with is the unknown. Did he catch a look at himself in the mirror when he got back to the hotel? Did someone say something to him on his way to the taxi line? Or maybe -- just maybe -- he purposely wore the shirt inside-out as a statement to his unconventional stance on life despite an outwardly conventional overall appearance.
He is my white whale in an orange cardigan.
Ludacris, Fall Out Boy perform at Madden Bowl (11:45 a.m.)
To be honest with you, last night would have been an ideal time for a Super Bowl Party Beat bye week. I could order some hotel room service (billed to Rog, of course), watch a few episodes of Forensic Files and pass out by 10:30. But that's not how this gig works. The parties are getting bigger as we inch ever closer Super Bowl 50, and so, I must go bigger.
And so it was that I pulled it together, slugged down a 5-hour Energy shot and cabbed it over to the Masonic Center, the site of Madden Bowl XXII. I attended the same event last year, which ended up being a rather crushing disaster for the folks at EA Sports. The event was held at an outdoor facility in Scottsdale, a substantial problem because it rained all night.
"In Arizona we were told that it only rains twice in the winter and we got one of those days," a still smarting EA Sports executive named Randy Chase told supersundayhq.com.
I wouldn't call the Masonic Center an ideal location for this type of event. It was too crowded in the concourse, the place is built like a labyrinth and I couldn't stop having stampede-related horror thoughts about all the two-way swinging double doors that separated the lobby from the theater. I guess this is what 35-year-old dads think about while DJ Khaled is on the stage.
The entertainment at the party was very good. Khaled was up first, and he kept the room bumping. This guy has a great thing going. Khaled's schtick: Him and another guy stand behind the DJ equipment as DJ Khaled blurts out "DJ KHALED!!!" while periodically checking his cell phone. Everybody loved it.
Then it was Ludacris' turn. His set was full of familiar hits -- by the time he brought up a drunk blonde woman to dance to "Move B----" I felt I was back in my Hoboken apartment during a party in 2004. Having zero familiarity with the Fast and the Furious franchise, Luda remains forever locked in this time period for me.
The night's entertainment closed out with Fall Out Boy, which turned out to be a misstep by event organizers. By the time FOB took the stage, half the audience had cleared out and probably half of the people that remained were drinking in the lobby. That led to a somewhat surreal site of a multi-platinum rock band playing to a mostly empty amphitheater. Which was a shame, too, because FOB still delivered a really strong set. I was a Coldplay apologist earlier this week, and now you can out Fallout Boy to that list. And damn, lead singer Patrick Stump has a great voice.
I especially like this song:
In said lobby during the FOB set, I spotted Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. This led to a truly stressful 10-minute period of waiting for the right opportunity to introduce myself and ask to take a selfie. I know that's cheesy, but if you're a Jets fan you get legitimately geeked out by a quarterback who threw 30 touchdown passes in a season. The list goes one deep and it starts and ends with The Amish F----- Rifle.
When I saw an opening I stepped over, stuck out my hand and introduced myself. I said a few embarrassing fanboy things that I'm glad weren't captured on video or audio. He was very nice and I got my selfie. I sent the photo in an email to my parents this morning, prompting this eyebrow-raising comment from my mom:
"Don't know why he's not more popular with the ladies ..."
So that was the Madden party. The place smelled like a Bob Marley concert circa 1976 and I saw two guys -- both of whom looked like they could be players -- requiring medical assistance. One was wheeled out on a gurney, the other passed out on a damn toilet bowl in the men's room! I don't know what that was all about, but I do have some worries how the effects of second-hand smoke could impact an impromptu NFL Media drug test.
The poop gets real as we reach the weekend. Tonight I'll be headed to the Playboy party, one day after the men's magazine unveiled its first non-nude issue. I'm just hoping it goes better than last year. And finally, yes, I'd be super bummed if my mom left by dad for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but I'd also kind of get it. Fitzmagic is way more handsome than he perhaps gets credit for.